Wednesday, July 30, 2008


My little sister Ruth is getting married over this upcoming Labor Day weekend. That's not the surprise. The surprise is that her whole bridal party is made up of folks living in New York, and we all pitched in to fly her out here and put her up and show her a weekend she won't soon forget. My mom and dad are driving her to the airport in Seattle right now. Mom snapped this pic of Ruth right after she found out the good news.

Oh, what fun we'll have! Tomorrow night we're going to picnic in Prospect Park and then see the Mark Morris Dance Group. It's all part of Celebrate Brooklyn, an annual summer arts fest that is amazing and free and which I've failed to attend every summer until now because we are so often out of town in the summer.

Other things we might do over this long weekend with Ruth: attend a Brooklyn Cyclones game (Saturday is Ladies' Night!), go to the Czech Bohemian Beer Garden in Queens, go to Slideluck Potshow (if we can get in), and if I know my sister, shop at H&M.

Life is so, so good.

2001, 2008

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Eight Years Ago Today

Traveling to . . . Manhattan

I was in a car full of career-minded theater women lately, traveling out to the beach to celebrate a friend's impending nuptials, when one of the women realized that she was the sole Manhattanite in the car.

"You Brooklyn people," she said. "You never want to leave home." By that she didn't mean our apartments, but our borough.

It's true. The summer I moved to New York--and to Brooklyn--TimeOut New York featured a cover proclaiming "Brooklyn is the New Manhattan." I, like a lot of Brooklynites, avoid Manhattan whenever possible. I'm glad it's there, but I'm even more glad it's over there, so we Brooklyn folk can enjoy our trees and our space and the fact that our sun isn't blocked by skyscrapers.

As I write this, my husband is in Manhattan, visiting both the Tajikistani and Uzbekistani consulates and making sure his papers are in order for his upcoming trip. See? That's exactly the kind of thing you want to be close to--all the consulates of the world!--but an arm's length will do.

We're celebrating our eighth anniversary today in a style that speaks to both parts of our union. You could call it yin/yang, lowbrow/highbrow, earthy/refined, but I prefer Brooklyn/Manhattan.

Part One: Brooklyn's Coney Island, where we also happened to celebrate our first anniversary. Beach, hot dogs, the Wonder Wheel, ice cream, more beach. Sun.

Part Two: To Manhattan for Gordon Ramsay's six-course tasting menu at MAZE:

Marinated beetroot, ricotta, pine nut and Cabernet Sauvignon dressing

Hand dived scallops roasted with spices, golden raisin purée and cauliflower beignets

Carnaroli risotto of Maine lobster, English peas and preserved Meyer lemon
Pan fried branzino, tomato and olive fondue, baby artichokes and anchovy butter

Loin of Colorado lamb with spiced belly, guanciale and crushed peas, mint jus
Fillet of Brandt beef, morels with braised short rib, glazed asparagus

Apple and caramel trifle with cider granité, cinnamon doughnut

Peanut butter and cherry jam sandwich with salted nuts and cherry sorbet

Oh, my . . . I can hardly wait. And I'm so grateful to have access to all of this, and my husband, too, before he's eating squirrel and lentils in Central Asia. Happy anniversary.


In honor of Ms. Shafak, my blog's title has gained an exclamation point, so that what once was simply TRAVELMONKEYS is now the much more exciting TRAVELMONKEYS!

Perhaps it will change back and forth, depending on my mood.

(...on my mood!)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Home Comforts

One of the greatest benefits of spending so much time away from home is how much I appreciate home when I am back. I love my neighborhood in Brooklyn, I love my pumpkin wood floors, I love my uber-comfortable bed and how the quiet and calm of my home allows me to sleep like the dead and dream like a surrealist--but what I love, more than anything else, is having my kitchen back.

It's not that I have a lot of fancy tools, but they are all my tools, my spices, and I know exactly how to use them. Chopping vegetables, sauteeing garlic, listing to WNYC's "Evening Music" and "New Sounds"--heaven.

This morning: a whole wheat bagel from the best bagelier in all of NYC, "Bagels by the Park," a convenient 2 blocks away. I took that bagel home, sliced and toasted it, then put Dalmatian Fig-Orange jam on one half, and half a sliced up avocado with lemon and fresh pepper and a pinch of kosher salt on the other. Superb. I would have taken a picture, but I couldn't bear to delay eating.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Pics from D.C.

I'd hoped to see more of D.C., but due to a death in the family I had to cut my trip short. Mike stayed behind to finish off the run and snapped a few pics with his camera phone. The second is of the plaque outside the home the theater put us up in--that's Admiral Peary, the famed Arctic explorer who Mike references in "Great Men of Genius: Tesla."

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Bastard of Istanbul

Oof. I picked up this book at SeaTac airport, thinking it might help provide some insight during my upcoming trip to Istanbul. This is the author, Elif Shafak's, second book written in English. I'm guessing/hoping her previous books were better-written.

I *am* enjoying the little observations of Istanbul life--how women handle heckling men; how in Turkish one can add an -ist to the end of any noun to come up with a new profession, like "tangerinist" to describe one who sells tangerines; how when you apologize to Allah, you must do it three times: forgive me, forgive me, forgive me.

But passages like the following grate:

"It is not a baby!" Zeliha shrugged. "At this stage, I'd rather call it a droplet. That'd be more scientific!"
"Scientific! You are not scientific, you are cold-blooded!" Cevriye burst into tears. "Cold-blooded! That's what you are!"
"Well, I have good news then. I have not killed . . . it--her--whatever!" Zeliha turned toward her sister calmly. "Not that I did not want to. I did! I tried to have the droplet aborted but somehow it did not happen."

I ask you! Why so many exclamation points!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Istanbul Advice

Have you been to Istanbul? Do you have advice on what to see, where to stay, what to eat, etc.? I'd love to hear from you if you do.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

From our time in the desert, where we birthed "If You See..." This is Baci with Bob Martin, the director of the Lensic Performing Arts Center. Normally we stay in a hotel or apartment the theater rents, but in this case, Bob opened his beautiful Santa Fe home to us, and he and Baci got along like gangbusters.